Animal Crackers from Buffalo and Other Strange Creatures Romp in the Citifield Soup During Eighth Inning Come From Behind Rally
The Mets are vying for second place with the Nationals, a game behind Philadelphia, and last night’s 8-6 victory over their rivals was a beauty, although it required a certain animal drive for survival the Mets are often lacking. It was the first game as a Met for “animal” Chris Carter, who knocked in the winning run, and a good night for the Corner Cuties, David Wright and Ike Davis. Wright had several hits and Davis turned in what was possibly the greatest of his three pop foul “Circle de Soleil” catches. It was one of the more theatrical evenings available in New York last night, just a half hour from Broadway.
When asked, before the curtain went up last night, about Chris Carter, who was batting .340 in Buffalo, in the International League, manager Manuel said cryptically, “We’re getting the animal ready.” Suddenly “the animal” was on everyone’s radar. Was he warming up under the stands? Was he really that good? When his name was announced at a pinch hitter in the eighth inning, the crowd went wild, even without the nickname. On only his second pitch, Chris “The Animal” Carter knocked in the go-ahead run cracking a double down the right field line on a field that was starting to become soupy with rain. It was the beast’s first at-bat as a Met and it was a beauty. Ugly Juan Batista was brought in to pitch, and then Reyes and Bay were walked to load the bases and then Wright struck out for the second yellow light bulb on the board. In one of the most suspenseful moments of the season so far, Ike Davis followed with a grand slam that, unfortunately, only happened in his mind. The ball arched high over the short foul pole in Citifield’s right field corner and it was impossible to tell if it was fair, as in grand slam, or foul as in “strike.” The umpires left the field for five minutes to sequester themselves “in camera” view the fly ball from every camera angle on videotape and the verdict when they returned to the courtroom of green was “foul.” Due to the lack of evidence that it was in fact another Ike Davis eighth inning home run, the ten run Mets’ rally was reduced to a mere six, and Ike Davis made an ordinary out a few pitches later on a fly ball to center.
Ike Davis, who ended up 0 for 5 after a rather solid game, got a chance to snatch the limelight again a few outs later. K Rod took the mound for the Mets and was throwing smoke as only he can, in the mid-90s but with a lot on it, and had the Nats down to their last out. The Nationals’ Ian Desmond hit a pop foul near first toward the stands but the wind blew it back in so that it was falling towards the deepest part of the Mets’ dugout. Ike Davis, who has Crazy Glue in his glove, reached over the railing for the ball like he did the previous two times he made the highlight reel, with arm fully extended and glove at a backhanded angle, and snagged the fly with the full extension of his first baseman’s mitt. A beauty of a snag. The Beast in the Cocteau film noir La Belle et le Bete did not shag as great a beauty as Davis did with this pop fly.
However this time, there was a six foot drop beneath him and as he flipped over the railing, five (okay 2)Mets players ran to grab his legs as they came down sideways on the dugout side of the fence and then five more (okay 2) threw themselves against his back to hold him aloft, with Ike playing the role of the flag in the Iwo Jima memorial. The proud, the strong, the Mets….
There Ike Davis remained pinned as they deliberated as to how to let him down safely. There is a priceless shot of Ike’s mangled mug as he stares with blank and helpless expression through the metal wires of the hurricane fence at the cameras. It was a beauty.
Game over. K-Rod, who was on the mound, just stood there staring at Ike Davis and could hardly stop laughing. Ike had saved his bacon. The curtains fell and the stunned audience jumped to their feet with applause.
The Mets have been turning in some amazing 8th innings lately. This one started with the Mets down 6-2 after coming up with a hopeful second run in the sixth on a sac fly by Francoeur. Bay led off the eighth frame versus Brian Brunney with a single to center, followed by a double to left by Wright. Davis scored Bay on an error by the shortstop. Clippard came in to strike out Francoeur. Then Barajas, who is a bit of a beast himself these days in the spirit of Mike Piazza, smacked a double to center, scoring Wright and Davis, the Corner Cuties. Cora got to first on a stunning bunt to the third base side of the pitcher to score Borajas.
Relief pitcher Valdes was due in the lineup thanks to a double switch. That was when manager Manuel opened the cage. That’s when new number 23, Chris “The Animal” Carpenter came snarling and snorting to the plate to pinch hit for Valdes. The news had spread: “The Animal” was on the loose. He looked at his first pitch as a Met and let it go by. Was he going to be cool and let the count pile up? No. On the second pitch he took a rip and tore the cover off the ball, lining a double into the right field corner. Cora scored what turned out to be the winning run and Pagan scored the insurance run, making it 8-6, the final score.
Batista came in but was a little wild himself, and had trouble finding the plate. He walked Reyes intentionally with still only one out and first base open, nearly throwing it in the stands, but then walked Bay on five pitches, missing the strike zone by a lot. Again, the bases were loaded for bear. Wright had every chance to walk as Batista’s pitches were almost going to the backstop, but he kept trying to keep the excitement going and struck out reaching for wild pitches. It was then that Ike Davis hit his phantom home run, his would-be first granny, arching high towards the foul pole in right field. He tried to make like Carlton Fisk in the Sixth Game, making bowing gestures of prostration before the gods of wind and air, as the ball made its windblown journey towards the stands. When the umpires called it foul, he put on a show of indignation, putting both hands on his head like a bÃªte noir or an enfant terrible (excuse my French) having a temper tantrum, throwing his helmet on the ground and jumping around like drunken rally monkey. Manuel asked for a rare video review on the homer and got it, thanks in part to the drunken monkey routine and the pleas, but the umps came back with a solemn verdict, no grand slam, no homer. To Ike
Davis, it was, as the French would say, a “Slap in the face!”
What might have been a ten run rally to make it 12-6 was no more. We had to settle for 8-6, but it was the biggest inning of the season for the Mets, and that’s saying a lot. Everyone went home whistling the title tune, which of course was not the Beauty and the Beast theme but the less romantic “Meet the Mets,” praising the “superb score,” and “sparkling performance” of the cast. The Metropolitan Opera Company, which is what they could now well be called, went into a tie with the National Opera for second behind the Philadelphia Orchestra Nine. It may not have been good baseball but it was great theater!
Note that Carter’s #23 was the number he wore in spring training and it is the number of major league at bats he’s had before becoming a Met; it was Doug Flynn’s old number from a bygone Mets era, it was Brian Schneider’s number, it was Jason Phillips’ number as well. There is no reason to suspect he is related to former Mets catcher Gary Carter.
4/30/10 Mets, Trusting Old Bay, Whip Phillies, Go Ahead by a Nose in Race for NL East Flag; on a Pace to Win Triple Crown
The Mets beat the Phils by a big margin, 9-1 with help from 31 year old veteran Jason Bay, who doubled to lead off the second and scored on a David Wright homer, soon followed by another homer by Jeff Francouer to make it 3-0. Niese pitched well and the Mets ended the day a game and a half in front of the defending World Champion Phils on top of the NL east. The Mets are leading the major leagues in triples with 9, and are on a pace to become “Kings of the Triples-Hitting Teams” this year, which would earn them the “Triples” crown.
5/1/10:,” Mets Try to Extend Streak to 8 but Phillies Say “Nay,” Pull the Plug on Big Mike in 4th; Phillies Miss Happ, Leaves Them Without a Left Arm; “Doc” Halladay Goes The Distance to Fix the Problem
Philadelphia left-handed reliever J.A. Happ who was on the DL and scheduled to return, suffered a set back and a longer rehab due to a strained muscle in his pitching arm. They have not found a southpaw to replace him. However, the Phillies knocked off league leading 6 foot 7 inch Mets starter “Big Mike” Pelfrey in the fourth inning of last night’s game, breaking his scoreless inning streak at 27 and breaking the Mets win streak at 7 games in a row. Starter Roy “Doc” Halladay pitched a complete game shutout, winning 10-0, so that the Phils did not have to go to their bullpen at all, a big break considering their loss of Happ.
5/2/10: Mets Try to Stay in Front of Race but Phillies Come from Behind, Battling Wright “Away”
The Mets fell out of first place as they lost 11-5 to the Phillies, who came from behind against Johann Santana. David Wright slugged a three run home run in the top of the first, even as the Phillies hurler pitched to him “away” from the plate, but Santana surrendered two runs almost immediately to the big Phillies’ hitters, and then proceeded to be knocked out by the long ball.
5/3/10: Mets, Reyes Stop Leake in 6th with Long-lasting Tie; Sudden Burst Drowns Mets Hopes as Laynce Nix Seals Sad Fate For Mets; Plummer Runs Off With Taylor, Writes Tell-all Expose’
Reds pitcher Mike Leake held onto a 2-1 lead until the sixth, when Mets shortstop Jose Reyes tied it up with a single with Castillo at second after a two-base error. Leake was taken out of the game, but the two teams remained deadlocked in the 2-2 tie until rookie Laynce Nix unexpectedly blasted a homer in the bottom of the eleventh to give the Reds a 3-2 win.
In an unrelated story, award winning actor Christopher Plummer, who ran away to Connecticut a few years ago with his long-time wife and dancer/actress Elaine Regina Taylor, has recently published his memoirs, “In Spite of Myself.”
5/3/10; Reds Square With Metropolitans on Major League Stage; Rookie Nieve Struggles With Tight Two-Two Tie Opening Night
The Cincinnati Reds squared off with the New York Mets tonight in the first game of a three game series at Great American Ballpark before an audience of 14,000. The two teams maintained a 2-2 tie into extra innings. Mets’ rookie reliever Nieve entered stage left to pitch in the 8th, and 9th, but struggled, as did Feliciano and Mejia, both of whom left a runner on base.
5/3/10 Gambler Drew Stubbs in Error; Acosta’s Fortune to Lose Contest as Fireman Takes Chance with High Heat in 11th
Cincinnati Center Fielder Drew Stubbs took a chance on one of Perez’ first pitches and came out swinging in the first. He opened last night’s game with a solo homer, putting the Reds in the lead, but later cost the Reds a run when he made a costly error, gambling on a tough play. The game became tied in the sixth, and remained 2-2 until Mets’ relief pitcher (aka “fireman”) Manny Acosta lost the game with a daring 80 mile an hour slider that hung up to become a walk-off home run ball for Laynce Nix.
5/3/10 What Should Have Been “Day at the Beach” Turns Cloudy: Mets Burned By Redlegs After “Moment in the Sun.”
With the go ahead run at second in the top of the 11th, rookie slugger Ike Davis came to the plate with the intent to knock the run in and break the tie, but couldn’t “get the job done,” to use his words. If he had, the Mets would have had a chance to win and move back into first place in the NL East in front of the defending World Champion Phils. It was their day in the sun. Instead, Ike made a strike and the Cincinnati Redlegs came back in the bottom of the inning to burn Manny Acosta with an unexpected homer from light hitting (.236 lifetime average) Laynce Nix to win.